( AP ) - A Supreme Court stacked with judges loyal to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf cleared the way for him to rule as a civilian president, ruling Thursday against a final challenge blocking ratification of his election last month.
The decision, which was widely expected, means that Pakistan's Election Commission can put a stamp of approval on the vote. Musharraf has said he would then step down as army chief and take the oath as president.
Musharraf has said that once he got a court decision in his favor, he would quickly step down as army chief and take the oath as president. Pakistan's attorney general said Wednesday that such a move could come as early as Saturday.
The case before the court on Thursday centered on a claim by a would-be rival candidate, Zahoor Mehdi, who was blocked by the Election Commission from competing in the vote. He argued the decision was wrong, but the court said his nomination papers were not valid. Five other cases challenging the election were either thrown out or withdrawn on Monday.
It is still not clear whether Musharraf will lift the state of emergency, despite international pressure, including from the United States, his key backer. The Supreme Court on Thursday also was considering challenges to emergency rule, and a decision was expected later in the day.